One of the aims of using various rhetorical techniques is to add clarity to a point. Obviously, one way to give clarity is by an illustration. An illustration can add clarity — and a good illustration can add amazing clarity! Tony Evans is a master at making a truth clear by a simple illustration or analogy. Check out some of Tony Evans’ illustrations on this WordPress site from previous months.
Over years of preaching Gospel message, one of my aims was to make a Gospel truth or concept as clear as I could make it. One way of doing that was to use the illustration of Blondin. Another illustration which I believe makes clear the concept of accepting the payment of Christ on the cross for our sins was what I will call “The Courtroom”* which goes something as follows.
(audio clip of this transcribed section)
Imagine you’re in court and as you step into the courtroom, you look up at the bench and I’m seated at the bench — and we know each other.
And you know me and I know you.
And I think to myself what — what is he – what are you in here for?
And I quickly flip through my papers, as the last case is being wrapped up and the attorney is leaving the big wooden desk down front.
And I’m looking at it and I go – Oh my!
You know — and I kind of realize – you know – what the penalty is!
And so – as you walk forward — the bailiff gets up and announces your case — and then says, “and the penalty is – if found guilty – thirty days in jail or $1,000 fine
What a misdemeanor — what did you get yourself into this situation for?
So you look at me — and what have you — so finally your attorney steps up — you walk through the double wooden little gate there — and come up to the desk where the last attorney was — and the bailiff says, “What’s your plea?”
And as you look over at your attorney – you say to your attorney
“Look, I know the judge and he knows me
I’m not going to play around
Just please — let’s get this over with — 30 days
I don’t have a thousand dollars but. . . “
So I said, “How does your client plea?” — and he goes,
“He pleads guilty.” — what have you
I said, “Your client understands the thirty days in jail, a thousand dollars, or both?”
He says, “Yes”
So I go – “Well thirty days in jail or a $1,000 fine – whichever you
Your client looks up — he goes, “I don’t have a thousand dollars.”
(He not even going to pay you — as a public defender)
So I go, “Thirty days in jail,” and I lightly rap the gavel.
And I quickly take off my Judge’s robes.
And I lay them down on the bench.
And I come down and I reached for my wallet.
And I say, “Hold it, bailiff, I’ll pay the $1,000 fine.”
You look back and go
“No – no – no – you’re not going to pay my. . . “
“You don’t need to do that, and I don’t want you to do that!”
(for whatever reason — pride — or whatever)
“I’ll take my thirty days in jail.”
And now you walk down to the jail.
And you know the first question is — don’t you? — that they’re going to ask your as you walk into your cell?
“What are you here for?”
Now if you tell them your misdemeanor you would be mistaken! – huh?
Because now there’s only one reason you’re in jail.
Because you refused to let the judge pay.
That’s the only reason you’re in jail.
If a person dies and ever goes to hell — they’re not in jail because they smoke — committed adultery — or lied — or didn’t go to church
It’s not for any crime they committed.
Jesus one day lay down his robes on the throne of glory
stepped into this world
and moved into your neighborhood
and knows you!
And he said, Let me pay
And if you die and go to hell there is only one reason you’ll go to hell.
You refused to let Him pay!
If you would let Him pay, you’d be in heaven
. . . . .
— Ted Martens
(Link To Another audio clip from a Gospel message using the same illustration)
*An edited written version of the courtroom illustration.
Imagine along with me that you have found yourself caught up in the legal situation for this-or-that wrongdoing(s) the previous evening. Things got out of hand at the event and you, along with others, were arrested.
It is now the next day, and you are to appear in court, with your attorney.
As you enter the courtroom, you realize that I have been the judge who has been assigned to that day’s cases.
Your eyes catch mine, as the previous case is wrapping up the final details with the bailiff.
We know each other because I moved to your neighborhood years ago. We have been close friends for years!
As the previous lawyer and defendant are clearing out from the large desk down front, you and your attorney move over to that general area behind the railing.
The bailiff announces the next case to be heard – yours.
A short statement of the offense(s) with which you are charged is read, and he then states that the offense is a misdemeanor.
You and your attorney – the assigned public defender — walk through the dark brown swinging railing and stand behind that large brown desk located down front in the courtroom.
I take a moment to look at the paperwork in front of me concerning your case. While it is a misdemeanor, I realize that the law requires, for such actions, either 30 days in jail or a $1,000 fine, or both.
I inform you of your rights, repeat the charges and the possible penalties, and then state, “I see that you are represented by an attorney. How does your client want to plead?”
You take a second, and tell the public defender, “Just plead me guilty. There is no sense in extending this, and I don’t have the money to try to defend myself — plus I am just guilty.”
Your attorney turns around and states, “My client states that he chooses to plead guilty.”
“Does your client understand that the penalty is 30 days in jail, or $1,000, or both?”
Your attorney looks at you, and you whisper to him — “Yep — I guess it’s 30 days in jail — I don’t have any $1,000”.
“He does, your honor.”
“The penalty is 30 days in jail OR $1,000. — What is your wish?”
“My client accepts the 30 days in jail. He has no such money at this time.”
The gavel is lightly rapped on the judge’s bench and then something strange beings to suddenly transpire.
The judge quickly gets up while taking off his judicial robes, steps down toward the bailiff and the desk where you and your attorney are, reaches for and pulls out his wallet, and tells the bailiff — “I will pay the fine of $1,000.”
“I know _____, and we have been friends, good friends for years. I am sorry that he found himself in this difficult legal situation. He need not, and I do not want to see him spend any time in a jail cell.”
While, you are grateful for the judge’s graciousness, and your friend’s willingness to pay the fine, you refuse to have him do that for you.
“Judge, I will spend my 30 days in jail. Thank you for your offer, but you don’t have to do this — and I don’t want you to do this. Let’s go, bailiff!”
As you are escorted to the county jail and walk into your cell, one of the first questions that will probably be asked of you is, “What are you in here for?”
Now if you rehearse your misdemeanor, your offense or offenses, you would NOW be mistaken.
There is only one reason you are NOW in jail. You are NOW in jail because you would not let the judge pay your fine for your offense or offenses.
If anyone dies and goes to hell, — and some will — it will not be because of this-or-that sin or sins. It will only be because he or she would not let the judge pay.
Jesus stepped off of His heavenly throne, took off His robes of glory, came down to earth — moved into your neighborhood — and finally at the cross said — “Let me pay. I will cover the penalty. Let me pay.”
No one is going to die and go to hell because they did not go to church, lived a selfish life, smoked, drank, committed adultery, or even committed some of society’s worst of sins. It will be because they would not accept payment, the payment which Jesus made on Calvary — the same payment he made for the one thief who called on Jesus and who had nothing to bring or offer which could for sin atone.